In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness here is the last chapter:
So my journey into the machine I like to call Mr. Burns, otherwise known as Radiation began Monday, August 24th. The first step was I met with the radiation oncologist and they did a map of my body and gave me 3 tattoo dots so they would know how to line me up in the machine. I don’t know if it is because my pain threshold has lowered because I have been constantly messed with and stuck with needles for the past 10 months or if I am a complete wimp because I have never had a tattoo but the tattoo dots hurt. What made it worse was the technician kept acting like I was crazy and told me that she had never heard anyone complain about the tattoo dots hurting. (I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard that through this whole ordeal). I know I was sensitive and a little scared because I was at the beginning a different treatment so a little compassion would have been appreciated. It is safe to say I will not be getting any sort of survivor tattoo when this all over, seriously what is up all of you tattooed friends…..ouch!
They put me in the machine the Friday before Radiation to make sure everything was lined up and calculated correctly, and then they drew on me with a blue sharpie that does not want to come off of my skin, so I have x’s dots, and lines all along the left side of my chest and arm.
I would like to mention that I was having bouts of Post-Traumatic Stress. Once in a while something will trigger a memory from this past year and I will have to sit down and breathe due to either a small panic attack or a burst of tears.
I would also like to mention that Radiation has really done a number on my memory. They say its chemo brain, but radiation brain is way worse. I have already lost my phone and have to write down everything, have no ability to multi-task, and I am pretty much mentally useless after radiation so I scramble to try and get important things done before treatments. The doctor said it is because of fatigue and your brain acts like it hasn’t had sleep in a few days. The fatigue thing is also weird, because some days I will literally nod off like I am narcoleptic but I won’t be able to sleep for more than 30 minutes and it’s usually pretty light and I don’t sleep well at night I think it is also because of the radiation since I didn’t have this issue before.
The good news is that my skin really hasn’t burned too bad. It is extremely dark on my left side like the Tanning Mom but it is not doing too badly. The doctor gave me a prescription of Triamcinolone Acetonide Cream, which I put on right after Radiation and the suggested I buy a cream called Oronine Ointment that is from Japan which I purchased through Amazon to put on at night. I have followed the doctor’s instructions religiously and my skin is doing great considering what it is going through.
They do 6 different beams of radiation at different angles and some are longer than others and sometimes I feel sore as I am getting them so I have figured out that if I hum songs through the procedure it makes it go by faster and I don’t focus on the radiation and whether I feel uncomfortable or not. Luckily it goes by pretty quick I am usually on the table 15 minute’s tops.
So Monday will be my 25th radiation with only 3 more to go after that and then I will officially be completed with cancer treatments with the exception of taking hormone blockers for the next 10 years and being tested regularly, but treatment will be done, finished, finnito, stick a fork in me I’m done!
It has been a long and bumpy road: Surgery for the removal of 15 lymph nodes, 18 bags of chemo, 2 scary trips to the ER with a week each in the hospital, a double mastectomy, 28 rounds of radiation, a lot of needles, stingy medicines, painful procedures, painful recoveries and a lot of mental and emotional extreme highs and extreme lows.
The crazy thing is that even though this has been a difficult year and I still have a lot of rebuilding to do and there are now issues with my body that will never recover there have been a lot of amazing things that have come from this. I love my life! I mean I loved my life before, but I really love my life! I am so grateful for the amazing people that I am so blessed to have in my life and for all the amazing people that I have met along the way in this crazy trip. I’ve learned to not worry so much about the what if’s and to enjoy the right now’s. It sounds a little cliché but all you need really is love! Love of family, love of friends, and love of the people you get to meet in this crazy world. It’s what has gotten me through all this and it is what makes life worth living. I love you all and I am so grateful that you have read my story and I hope that my story might help others who might have to take this ride. I wish you all well. Peace!